What i think about mental noting

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:10 pm

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:07 pm
rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 4:40 pm
I wonder if mental noting is related to speech that follows directed thought and evaluation.
[thanissaro:] Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications.[SN41.6] When one has attained the first jhāna, speech has ceased [SN36.11].
also the relationship to

vitakka - trans; thinking
vicara - trans; more thinking, examining, sustained thinking, evaluation

Given that these are factors of the first jhana;
It seems like the vittaka and vicara remain but the verbalization ceases, because the SN 41.6 has it;
Pubbe kho, gahapati, vitakketvā vicāretvā pacchā vācaṃ bhindati, tasmā vitakkavicārā vacīsaṅkhāro.
sujato; First you place the mind and keep it connected, then you break into speech. That’s why placing the mind and keeping it connected are verbal processes.
So it does seem like one can have thinking without verbalization, i can't comprehend it tho. Also it fits with the narrative that the verbalization is antithetical to the first jhana.

i wonder how you understand this
Makes sense to me and aligns with my experience as well
ye that's what i thought. would appreciate if you explain how this occurs in as much detail as possible. Is it a conscious decision to drop noting, does it occur by itself, are you able to engage in verbalization if you wanted to post-cessation, do you think a meditator should stop noting at a certain point ie access concentration, does the noting become different post cessation of verbalization if so how, any other details too

also if you can instruct me on how to see for myself id try it out
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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budo
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by budo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:37 pm

rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:10 pm


ye that's what i thought. would appreciate if you explain how this occurs in as much detail as possible. Is it a conscious decision to drop noting, does it occur by itself, are you able to engage in verbalization if you wanted to post-cessation, do you think a meditator should stop noting at a certain point ie access concentration, does the noting become different post cessation of verbalization if so how, any other details too

also if you can instruct me on how to see for myself id try it out
Follow the in and out breath where it's most prominent, like the nose tip or upper lip, or whatever you feel it most. You can verbalize if you want, but you should eventually stop verbalizing, you can bring it back if hallucinations or dreams or sloth arises. Just feel the sensation. Eventually your breath will become short, when it's short you can start "chasing" the breath, by short I mean the breath doesn't leave your skull,if the lowest it goes is below your chin then it's a medium breath and not short. You shouldn't chase the breath when it's long as this causes waivering. Once the breath is short then you're on step 3 of Anapanasati and you can follow the whole body of breath, beginning, middle and end.


The breath will become subtler and subtler, and you have to put in extra mindfulness to notice it, you'll start zooming in on the breath. For example I can zoom in to the point where I can feel the breath entering the nostril, going up the nose turning around and going out, this is a very very zoomed in breath. Eventually you may feel like you're running out of breath and you may feel like you' need to take a deep breath, like being in a deep end of a pool or drowning, for me this happens around the 25-35 minute mark of meditation. This is the hindrance of restlessness and the first fear of death, you shouldn't take a deep breath because this will set your concentration back. Usually at this point is when access concentration comes and piti and sukha start to grow.

Once you can no longer feel your breath is usually the time that piti and sukkha can be felt and you can move your attention to that and let it grow, the first time this happens you will probably become excited/restless which will disturb your concentration so you have to do it all over again until you no longer get excited.

As for thoughts, they will turn into background whispers which you won't notice if you focus on the breath and by second jhana they're pretty much non-existent. Any time you hear the background thoughts it just means you're not focusing on the object well enough and you should bring your attention back to the in and out breath. Try to always be with the breath from beginning to end of both the in and out breath.

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:48 pm

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:37 pm
Once you can no longer feel your breath is usually the time that piti and sukkha can be felt and you can move your attention to that and let it grow, the first time this happens you will probably become excited/restless which will disturb your concentration so you have to do it all over again until you no longer get excited.

As for thoughts, they will turn into background whispers which you won't notice if you focus on the breath and by second jhana they're pretty much non-existent. Any time you hear the background thoughts it just means you're not focusing on the object well enough and you should bring your attention back to the in and out breath. Try to always be with the breath from beginning to end of both the in and out breath.
Thanks that will do.

If you don't make a conscious decision to stop the verbalization of mental noting it does not stop by itself or you haven't tried that?

I probably won't do it exactly as you said because that would probably be too confusing with the following of the breath but i quite easily get to the subtle breath and usually experience the same state of full body pleasure and tranquility for lack of a better word, i always note it and sometimes it lasts like an hour and after some time in it i tend to sometimes get a showering sense of intense pleasure from head down that is also the same every time but it does not last long so i will try stopping the noting once i get close to a pleasurable state next time and see what happens.

It is a pain in the ass to train because it takes so long to get to the intense pleasure and it does not always occur so if not noting makes it faster or makes it last longer that would be great.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

Manopubbangama
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:42 pm

I think anapanasati/noting up to access concentration with rising and fall of the breath as object is definitely the way to go.

And try to note the rest of the day as well, if you aren't dedicated to full time meditation, to the extent that your lifestyle permits.

Also Samvega, summon all your manly strength and say to yourself "I will not rise from this position until I achieve Nibanna."
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:26 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 6:42 pm
I think anapanasati/noting up to access concentration with rising and fall of the breath as object is definitely the way to go.

And try to note the rest of the day as well, if you aren't dedicated to full time meditation, to the extent that your lifestyle permits.

Also Samvega, summon all your manly strength and say to yourself "I will not rise from this position until I achieve Nibanna."
If want my advice for Nibbana in context of dry insight it requires intensity, persistence, a lot of constant reflection on the proper themes, a lot of dhammanupassana, a lot of sati, all day, a whole lot of conviction, dhamma joy, right effort, restraint of the senses, striving for full restraint in terms of precepts and arousing strong longing for release. Then cessation just happens at some point, most likely during formal meditation, can be a minute into sitting or whenever really, there are plenty accounts in the texts of various occasions for cessation.

I think whereas the Jhana are more of a step by step thing, the path attainment is more of a persistent buildup to release, one is unable to say how close one is and may feel discouraged but then decide to go on for a little more, just another day, another session and break thru. That is also a kind of samvega as i see it, taking on a bunch of precepts, starting to push and not giving up even when there is no end in sight.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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budo
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by budo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:32 pm

rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:48 pm

If you don't make a conscious decision to stop the verbalization of mental noting it does not stop by itself or you haven't tried that?
It's not that I don't make a conscious decision, it's that I find it stressful. The only reason I would employ the verbalized mental noting is because the hallucinations/dreams/sloth is equally stressful and so it's a tool to get out of that state. Being in jhana with no verbalizations is much less stressful to me, than verbalized noting everything even with strong concentration. The only problem is that jhanas are not permanent.

It is a pain in the ass to train because it takes so long to get to the intense pleasure and it does not always occur so if not noting makes it faster or makes it last longer that would be great.
Once you figure out your sticking points then it happens faster, and momentum helps a lot too.

Manopubbangama
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:52 pm

"All bodily sufferings and miserable conditions will have to be tolerated, and only by contemplating and noting with patience, concentration and wisdom or knowledge can be gained. If changes in bodily postures are frequently made on account of minor discomforts, such as, stiffness, hotness and pain, it will be difficult to enhance one's own power of concentration - samadhi. This will make it harder to achieve vipassana insight knowledge. Only when one contemplates and notes with patience and endurance, jhana samadhi can be attained.
-Brahmavihara Dhamma, Mahasi Sayadaw p.32


This sounds to me highly explicit that one mentally notes before leading up to access concentration and perhaps even during Jhana 1, whereas Jhana 2 is devoid of internal dialogue, and sati is so developed, it precludes the idea that mental noting is even available as an option.
Last edited by Manopubbangama on Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"They too, beholding the Buddha — Kinsman of the sun, mighty and fearless — salute him from afar: 'Homage to thee, who art unique among mankind; glory to thee, the highest among men.' - DN 32

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mikenz66
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:03 pm

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:32 pm
rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:48 pm

If you don't make a conscious decision to stop the verbalization of mental noting it does not stop by itself or you haven't tried that?
It's not that I don't make a conscious decision, it's that I find it stressful. The only reason I would employ the verbalized mental noting is because the hallucinations/dreams/sloth is equally stressful and so it's a tool to get out of that state. Being in jhana with no verbalizations is much less stressful to me, than verbalized noting everything even with strong concentration. The only problem is that jhanas are not permanent.
...
This is an interesting thread. To me, the noting/naming process (which I use almost all the time) prevents verbal proliferation by allowing a focus on the actual objects ("rising, falling"), rather than a story about them ("Oh, how interesting - the abdomen is rising and falling"). This seems to be the point that is misunderstood by some critics. On the other hand, clearly it's just a tool, and some teachers who teach this approach don't see the naming as a particularly important thing. The recognition, the "noting" is what they stress. In terms of the overall approach the naming just a small part, which happens to be emphasised at the beginning as it's so useful to get the mind to settle down. If I were to describe the Mahasi approach it would be along the lines of "paying attention to a grounding/primary object such as motion of feet or abdomen to build up concentration, with attention switching to any other prominent phenomena as they arise, with the aim of eventually being aware of all phenomena 24/7". Of course, knowing some dhamma background is necessary to be able to make sense of what is going on, and to deal with difficulties.

As for jhana, my impression is that to get into a highly absorbed state one probably does need to drop the noting. However, this starts to get into the area of what exactly is meant by jhana, and some of the lighter jhana interpretations seem to me quite similar what is aimed for by the Mahasi approach (as long as one doesn't interpret "dry insight" as "without the development of jhana factors", which I think would be a serious mistake).

Where I have found the noting to be very helpful is when I've been "stuck", in a state that I could not quite identify. Being able to identify it (as "wanting" for example, when I've been trying to really quieten down and am getting frustrated), can be extremely helpful in "breaking through" the problem... Thus, the idea that it's just a "beginners crutch", is not, I think, particularly accurate.

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budo
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by budo » Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:54 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:03 pm
budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:32 pm
rightviewftw wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:48 pm

If you don't make a conscious decision to stop the verbalization of mental noting it does not stop by itself or you haven't tried that?
It's not that I don't make a conscious decision, it's that I find it stressful. The only reason I would employ the verbalized mental noting is because the hallucinations/dreams/sloth is equally stressful and so it's a tool to get out of that state. Being in jhana with no verbalizations is much less stressful to me, than verbalized noting everything even with strong concentration. The only problem is that jhanas are not permanent.
...
This is an interesting thread. To me, the noting/naming process (which I use almost all the time) prevents verbal proliferation by allowing a focus on the actual objects ("rising, falling"), rather than a story about them ("Oh, how interesting - the abdomen is rising and falling"). This seems to be the point that is misunderstood by some critics. On the other hand, clearly it's just a tool, and some teachers who teach this approach don't see the naming as a particularly important thing. The recognition, the "noting" is what they stress.

When I went on an Ajahn Tong retreat which was supposed to be a "hardcore" retreat, I did exactly as they told me and set aside my own jhana practice.

I was noting everything in detail, from every feeling, physical sensation, arising thought, etc.. By the 10th day my head sounded like a space ship and I could literally see my thoughts inside my head, everytime I noted I saw the whiteness associated with it and the physical feeling the verbalization of the naming caused. By the end of the retreat I never wanted to verbalize a note or thought ever again, I could see the stress in it directly.

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mikenz66
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:47 am

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:54 pm
By the end of the retreat I never wanted to verbalize a note or thought ever again, I could see the stress in it directly.
Interesting how different people have different experiences with these techniques. Which probably demonstrates the need to find something that works for you.

Personally, I have tended to find the opposite. The noting (not necessarily naming - that's just an aid, and I can't keep up with naming when things get very fast) allows me to become much more peaceful. Perhaps I learned simply learned a more relaxed approach...

In any case, I don't see particular techniques as essential to Dhamma. None of the details of techniques described by modern teachers seem to be described in the suttas so I don't have any reason to think that any of them are essential. That's not to say that such techniques are not useful. How to loosening up your body and learning to sit comfortably is not described in detail either, but it's rather essential to any sitting practice. Similarly, some selection of the various possible approaches to the development of mindfulness and concentration seem to be me to be very helpful.

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rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:57 am

budo wrote:
Sat Nov 17, 2018 9:54 pm
I was noting everything in detail, from every feeling, physical sensation, arising thought, etc.. By the 10th day my head sounded like a space ship and I could literally see my thoughts inside my head, everytime I noted I saw the whiteness associated with it and the physical feeling the verbalization of the naming caused. By the end of the retreat I never wanted to verbalize a note or thought ever again, I could see the stress in it directly.
Before starting the practice i had decided that i was not interested in the jhana states and wanted to go straight for the cessation of the aggregates and the discernment of the unmade. It was quite painful and tedious and i can remember a few months into training commenting that it was really tough to keep going with no end in sight.

It is quite tedious work to note but i never had this aversion to it, I had some hallucinations and weird sensations but i just noted it all along with my reactions. Sometimes I would be falling over when sleepy and noting thru it when walking and sitting. Eventually i would also note the noting and verbalization and it did not bother me.

As i understand it there is a lot more to Satipatthana than mere noting of what is going on and Satipatthana practice has to do with 24/7 investigating of the actually arisen phenomena in light of the Dhamma and the rememberance and investigation of the Dhamma in general.

The formal walking and sitting is more of a mean to intensify the conditioning of the faculties for the attainment of the Deathless.

There is a Therigatha that i particularly like where a nun is striving without attainment, says something like "my discipline is good and i am tireless in performing my duties so why don't i get the attaiment:( " she goes to wash her feet and becomes aware of the water running down her feet, later she attains the cessation.
[I thought:]
"Plowing the field with plows,
sowing the ground with seed,
supporting their wives & children,
young men gather up wealth.

So why is it that I,
consummate in virtue,
a doer of the teacher's bidding,
don't gain Unbinding?
I'm not lazy or proud."

Washing my feet, I noticed
the
water.

And in watching it flow from high
to
low,
my heart was composed
like a fine thoroughbred steed.

Then taking a lamp, I entered the hut,
checked the bedding,
sat down on the bed.
And taking a pin, I pulled out the wick:
Like the flame's unbinding
was the liberation
of awareness.
I think the path of satipatthana is quite like that, it builds up to release and when the time is right the cessation occurs.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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budo
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by budo » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:56 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:57 am

I think the path of satipatthana is quite like that, it builds up to release and when the time is right the cessation occurs.
The problem with that is that you don't know if you're moving in the right direction or wrong direction. It's like the goldminer's dilemma, where they can dig for months and not hit any gold, the next day they can strike gold, or they can waste their whole life not gaining anything.

This is why the Buddha gave us landmarks or roadsigns to see if we're moving in the right direction, such as the fetters, the jhanas and their factors, factors of awakening, etc.. I think the Progress of Insight is another such list of landmarks, but I don't know how true it is.

I know that when I meditate and enter jhana I get benefits right here and now, if I get those benefits then anything else extra is a bonus, and so doing insight work after jhanas is easy and if I attain anything that's a bonus but at least my current existence is good. Going through pain for just a blind chance of some reward to me sounds masochistic.

rightviewftw
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Re: What i think about mental noting

Post by rightviewftw » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:21 am

budo wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:56 am
rightviewftw wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:57 am

I think the path of satipatthana is quite like that, it builds up to release and when the time is right the cessation occurs.
The problem with that is that you don't know if you're moving in the right direction or wrong direction. It's like the goldminer's dilemma, where they can dig for months and not hit any gold, the next day they can strike gold, or they can waste their whole life not gaining anything.

This is why the Buddha gave us landmarks or roadsigns to see if we're moving in the right direction, such as the fetters, the jhanas and their factors, factors of awakening, etc.. I think the Progress of Insight is another such list of landmarks, but I don't know how true it is.

I know that when I meditate and enter jhana I get benefits right here and now, if I get those benefits then anything else extra is a bonus, and so doing insight work after jhanas is easy and if I attain anything that's a bonus but at least my current existence is good. Going through pain for just a blind chance of some reward to me sounds masochistic.
i understand what you mean. As soon as doubt about the method creeps in one will want to explore alternatives. I think this is unavoidable and quite natural. As i see it;

some people will try out the dry insight and get to path attainment quickly
others will stick with it for the long haul and get the attainment eventually
others will quit and explore jhanas and get path attainment quickly
others will quit and explore jhanas get path attainment eventually
others will quit and only attain some jhana but not the path
others will quit and be unable to get neither jhanas nor the path attainment
others will quit and be unable to get jhanas but will eventually get the path attainment
some will attain path with dry insight and then explore jhana

There are all kinds of possibilities
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

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